Saturday, January 17, 2015

Mike Keane Autograph Card

The Montréal Canadiens are in the midst of a four-game road trip, and all three games so far (Wednesday against the Columbus Blue Jackets, Thursday against the Ottawa Senators, and tonight against the New York Islanders) featured their opponents wearing their alternate uniforms which, for all except the Isles', are definite improvements over their regular garbs.

Which brings me to this card of former Habs captain Mike Keane, seen wearing the New York Rangers' blue ''Liberty'' uniform - perhaps the best alternate jersey in all sports (the Edmonton Oilers had a great one too):
It's card #101 from Pinnacle's 1997-98 Be A Player set, the black sharpie signed insert version of the set.

What a perfect design, keeping the Rangers' classic dark blue as a base and red as its counterpoint, with white to highlight, and the Statue Of Liberty's head as a logo instead of the classic simple RANGERS (or NEW YORK) letters going down the front of the jersey, with the team's logo/shield on the shoulders. It was both modern and classic, also perfect descriptions of their star player at the time, Wayne Gretzky.

Keane has one less Stanley Cup than The Great One, but won it with three different teams: the Canadiens (1993), the Colorado Avalanche (1996, with former Habs and Cup winners Patrick Roy and Claude Lemieux) and the Dallas Stars (1999, with former Habs and Cup winners Guy Carbonneau, Brian Skrudland, and Craig Ludwig).

The Winnipeg native spent the twilight of his career captaining the AHL's Manitoba Moose (his #12 jersey is the only number the franchise ever retired) and now works for the Winnipeg Jets, as their player development assistant. He's a local hero there, almost on the same level as former superstar and Jets captain Thomas Steen.

While he was playing Juniors with the Moose Jaw Warriors, he played on a line with Theoren Fleury and Kelly Buchberger; all three eventually became NHL captains. I'm bound to have another signed card of his from his days with the Habs, in addition to the one I featured last August. Stay tuned, I guess!

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